Monday, April 14, 2014

Are You Retarded? No You Are.


Okay, so before I begin a post which I think might am sure will offend a lot of people. I want to just try to earn a little credibility here. I have 4 dear friends, one of them a co-worker, with children on the autism spectrum. My two best friends both have an aunt with Down Syndrome. Another very close life long friend has a daughter with Down Syndrome. I am good friends with several of special education and resource teachers who I know are in the trenches every day. And I have a daughter with a disability. Hers is mild, and there is no reason to believe that she won't go on to have a long and happy life, but there are days when I'm not sure if she will ever be able to live on her own. I know that my struggles and heartaches pale in comparison to the others in my life who have a member of their family with a disability. But I know what that pain feels like. 

Even without this life experience, I was raised from a young age to treat others with kindness and respect. I have spent all of my adult life being aware of appropriate labels. People aren't autistic. They have autism. The same goes for Down Syndrome. When referring to someone with a disability, I go out of my way, to phrase my words in such a way that it is clear that one is not defined by their disability. I know it doesn't seem like a big deal. Maybe you think I'm splitting hairs. But I only needed to be called a "seizure mom" once before I realized that making certain clarifications are important. 

Not only that, but I am really proud of my kids who see everyone the same. They look for others who are lonely and hurting and reach out to them. My kids have been known to be the only ones who will sit by another child who makes a mess when he or she eats. When others are disgusted, my children are helpful and kind. They use appropriate labels as well.

What I'm trying to say is, I'm hypersensitive about this stuff, okay? And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone. In fact I know I'm not alone. I have learned a lot from friends about how to be kind and open minded. In my experience, most people are good people. And most people have been raised with good manners and they choose their words carefully when it comes to referring to people with disablilites.  And I'm grateful for it. Sure it makes things complicated.  But I'm not saying anything that everyone doesn't already know. In my experience, most of us are careful. 

 That is why I am a little confused about the "Spread The Word To End The Word," campaign. If you haven't heard of it, do a quick youtube search. One can pull up dozens of heartfelt PSA's that will remind you to be extra sensitive, because this is important.  And there are so many of them, that I guess this is still a problem? But really, who are these losers who are still calling kids with disabilities retarded?  That is a sincere question, I am genuinely curious.

While I appreciate any effort to raise awareness, I prefer the Louis CK Approach. Wait wait. Please, don't click on that link it contains explicit language. I am specifically talking to my Aunt Amy, My grandmother, my Bishop, and my brother Dallin and maybe my Dad. Mom, you can go ahead and watch. Everyone else, if you are really curious but want to avoid the really bad stuff, just watch the first 20 seconds, you'll get the gist. 

I'm thinking of starting up a campaign that is much more nuanced. We would be essentially taking back the word retard. I've already done it in my home and it has gone over quite well. Do you know when the last time my sweet tolerant socially conscious kids heard the word 'retard?' It was probably this morning. They hear the word occasionally and they don't associate it at all with a person who might have a disability. They associate the word retarded with stupidity. 

Examples: 

*Jonah brushes his teeth and then comes down stairs and eats 9 Oreos= Retarded. 

*Every day the bus driver, who I am feuding with, stops the bus 25 feet away from me regardless of where I am on the sidewalk, just so she can have the satisfaction of watching me walk to the bus so that I will remember who's really in charge.= Retarded

*When he hears a woman say, "I'm on maternity leave," Peter responds with, "Oh, when are you due?"= the baby was born 2 months ago, what are you, retarded?

*When you are in college, and have the opportunity to learn about anything under the sun, you choose to spend 3 hours a week taking a racquetball class because, "The goggles are hilarious." And then you get an 'F.'
Emily hates this word, but, retarded.

*Eliza, being told to go upstairs and get her shoes on, but instead she comes down wearing her pajamas= This is tricky, if it is because she get preoccupied with selfies, well that's retarded. But if she has a small seizure on her way up the stairs and gets confused. That's not retarded, that's just Eliza doing the best she can. 

*My brother Elliot leaving Chinese food in his back pack for 3 days and then deciding to eat it. 
=Retarded

* I don't know who you are, but I'll figure it out. 
'cause you're retarded.


*Peter announcing that he hates spaghetti but he loves linguini, as he eats the spaghetti that I told him was linguini.= Retarded.

*Half the recipes on pinterest= Retarded.

* People who say, "Cray Cray."= Retarded

* The finale of Lost= Retarded

* Some insecure moron at school seeing another student with a disability and calling them a retard= Retarded. 

I could go on forever but I think you get the point. So who's with me?  I want a real effort to disassociate the word retarded from people who have disabilities. There may be reasons why this is a really bad idea, I know. I can't think of them, but I'm sure I haven't thought through this enough to actually post it. But the word is just so descriptive. And if we outlaw retarded, then kids will just come up with other mean words. Instead let's keep retarded and use the word against people who use the word inappropriately. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Happy Birthday Bruh

Dear David...


Remember that time mom went somewhere and left you in charge of paying the pizza man? (Those were the days when you could leave a 12 year old home alone in charge of 4 other kids and not worry about a pizza man) Okay so mom gave you $23 and said, "The $20 is for the pizza and the extra is for a tip." And when the pizza man came, and asked for $19.88 you said, "Hey pizza man, the $3 is a tip but I want change for the $20." And then the rest of us about died laughing while the pizza man gave you 12 cents in change and left. 

I know that won't seem funny to anyone who isn't a Scruggs. But in our family, the glue that keeps us together if the fact that no one gets to live anything down. No one.  Except me. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

YAOATOTG (You are only a tween once, thank goodness)

Because I had three kids in thirty-five months, there is one month a year when my older kids' ages line up like steps. Right now, Eliza, Shea and Jonah are, 12,11 and 10. It is as crazy as it sounds around here. I don't really know how to say this, but, life with tween kids is actually a total nightmare. Remember how miserable it was to be in middle school? Okay, picture going through middle school all over again, except this time you are totally paralyzed, and helpless. And that's the best way for me to describe what it feels like to be a mother of a middle-schooler. It is absolutely gut wrenching. And I'm in the car every day from 4-8. (That's not really relevant, I am just on a roll with the complaining.)

I don't remember much of middle school, that's by choice. But I remember that in high school I was awesome, all the time. And totally funny. Like double over gut busting hilarious. That is a totally accurate statement. From my point of view at least. I don't remember being mean, I don't remember being particularly nice either, but that's beside the point. Then a few years ago, my bff came into contact with someone I knew in high school. I had a couple of classes with this person, and though we never hung out, I would have considered us friends. But when this person met my bff, she said, "You are such a nice person, I can't picture you being friends with Angela." What? Maybe I wasn't as great as I thought I was. Or maybe if you aren't paying attention to the people around you, it doesn't matter how awesome you are. Shame on me. I don't remember doing anything mean to anyone. But I don't really remember looking around me to try to be a good friend either. And it wasn't as if I didn't have good examples. I was surrounded by people who were kind and loyal. I am embarrassed that I never paid it forward. 

Since then, I have made it my mission in life, to have kids who turn out better than me. I try to tell them as often as I can, "Find someone who looks like they could use a friend." and "There is always someone lonelier than you. Find that person."  I don't know if I'm getting through. And when you have kids who are lonely and hurting, that can be tough advice to give. But that's my story and I'm sticking to it. 

Isn't this a nice heartwarming post? Well, I was looking through some photos of last year and I stumbled onto a screen shot I took on Halloween of a ridiculous convo (that's what these youths are calling conversations these days) between Eliza's friends on insta. Forget everything I just said. I have no idea what I'm doing or how to raise kids in this social media age. 



And by the way, our neighborhood is no place for a child on Halloween. First, the all the parents meet at someones house for wine and pizza and they get totally wasted, then they all rent golf carts and drive their kids around to trick-or-treat. You wouldn't want them burning any candy calories. And to finish the night, they wrap things up at another house, where there is a big bonfire, and more drinking. Alcohol, motorized vehicles, children, fire. It is magical. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Darling Boy

  Today I picked up Ezra (4) from his arts and crafts class. I told him to say goodbye to the class, which was made up for 3 teachers and 15 kids. Instead of saying bye or giving me the usual sullen and shy routine, he announced, "My parents had 5 kids and they never even got married to each other." 

     And then, what was I supposed to say? There is nothing you can say to that that will un-do it. Because why would a 4 year old just pull that out of the blue? Unless he heard it from someone. I guess what I should have done was laugh. Instead my voice dropped an octave, I call it my involuntary looser voice, and I said, "He's lying, we're married." Then it totally wasn't weird at all.
  
   Ezra is gifted in all the wrong ways, he's gifted in making stuff up, and making clever observations about things that don't matter. People get real impressed when a 4 year old makes some insightful and sweet observation about what heaven is like, or what happens when the leaves change colors. But no one puts any value on a 4 year old listening to the lyrics of a "Fun" song and remarking, "Those 'young'  kids should NOT 'set the world on fire.'
  
   But I guess that proves that he's our boy. Gifted in things that don't really matter. Next time you see me, you might want to bring up Louie Armstrong and see what I do, I can't make any promises, I'm just sayin'. Or if you see Pete, well, I'll just have to tell you about his throw away talents in private. But they're awesome.  

Saturday, January 4, 2014

2013 Media Diet

  You know that lifestyle blogging is just a clever way of defending yourself. That's what I think as least. It's a pretty awesome way to defend yourself. Especially if you disable comments. I usually try to hide my defensiveness, not this time. This entire post is nothing but defensive. 


    Last month I went to see Catching Fire on its opening night with some girls. While we were chatting and waiting for the show to start. I admitted that I saw a midnight showing of the final Harry Potter movie without actually having read any of the books. Then, when the previews started, the trailer for the movie Divergent came up. I turned to one girl and whispered, "I haven't read this, have you?" And she whispered back, "You don't do a lot of reading, do you?" 
   
   This really really bugged me. Like bad. What, so I have to read stupid tween books to prove to her that I'm well read? What a jerk. It annoyed me so much that I did my favorite gesture that I love to do. I call it my 'what the eff' gesture. I furrow my eyebrows, open my mouth, let out this throaty questioning laugh, shrug my shoulders, face my palms to the ceiling and then shake my head back and forth, looking around to see if anyone else noticed the idiocy that I just witnessed. I guess I could just say, "What the eff" but I don't swear and the physical gesture is much more effective. Unfortunately, the theater was already dark, and my awesome reaction was totally lost on her. And then there was nothing I could say to defend myself without sounding like a defensive snob. She totally caught me off guard and all I could do was sputter out, "I read Anna Karenina this year," in a looser voice. I'm such a moron. 

  So now, here, I have just made my final entry in my 2013 Media Diet. And I have to say, I am really proud of it. I'm sure that by a lot of standards, most standards, it isn't a lot of reading, and I'' admit that I probably read more because I knew I was keeping track. But I read a couple of solid Russian novels as well as the seminal Zombie works so I'm feeling pretty smug as I look through my list.  And I am proud of all the film I saw as well. And the TV, some of the best TV I've ever seen was in 2013 and I think I'm a better person for it. 

  I really enjoyed keeping track of my media diet. I highly recommend it. Every time I would make an entry, I'd think about it a little bit, and feel grateful that I have a mind that allows me to read, watch, learn, observe, and process and analyze. It's much more satisfying than keeping track of your nutritional  diet. Which I do also. Just as religiously. Only can't recommend that at all. Do it, and you may loose weight, but you'll die a little inside. But I digress. On to 2014! Who wants to join me?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Oregon

Pete and I have this ongoing argument happening. He loves his home state. Like in an unhealthy way. For years he maintained that everyone from Oregon was like the coolest person ever because Oregon is the greatest state ever. Then one day I blurted out, "You know, I'm not sure I agree with that. I mean I love you and I love your sisters, but a lot of the people from Oregon that I've met are sort of weird." Oh you should have seen his face. I haven't seen that look since I blurted out that I hate camping. And then I saw it when when I told him that I actually hate the movie Braveheart. Oh, and I saw the look when I told him that I once bowled a 16. Or the time when I admitted that I didn't actually have a starring role in the Music Man, it was just a 4 word solo. And then I saw that look that one time when he discovered that I knew every word to every Blue's Traveler song. Okay, I guess I've seen that look more than a couple of times. It is this horrified look that says, "Who did I marry? Really. Who? Anyway, he was hurt, to the core. Not because what I had said was a terrible insult to his beloved state, but because part of him knew that I was right. He pushed back for a little while, but when Portlandia started airing, he knew he had lost the argument.
  Portlandia is awesome by the way, and Pete won't admit that he likes it, but he does. And as long as the state of Oregon exists, the writers of Portlandia will have plenty to write about. Here's a clip that pretty much sums up the show, and you know what? It sort of sums me up as well. It will give you a painful glimpse into my soul. I seem like a nice person, but I'm black inside.





  And then one day, Pete found this. It was just too good for him to keep to himself. This. Is Oregon for ya.

And I wanted to share it with you. A little Thanksgiving present. It really will keep on giving.




Sunday, November 24, 2013

Zeke and Trader Joes

 Well I've done it everyone. I wasn't sure if it could be done but I did it. And that is sort of the story of my life, you know, doing the impossible. After months of searching and testing, I found something at Trader Joes that totally sucks.


I love Salmon and I love jerky, so this should be good right? Well it's not. It smells like a bully stick. Which brings me to my next point, how do I know what a bully stick smells like?  Yep, I've joined that special group of people who walk around carrying bags of poo and they don't even think it's weird. In fact, they feel like they are benefiting society. We got a dog. It's more for the kids than anything, to teach them some responsibility. I don't even like him that much.

**had to take the video down**

You know, it's funny, deciding to get a dog is a lot like deciding to get a kid. I mean, have a baby. At first, you think they are sort of gross and you don't know why anyone would do that to themselves. Then you start to notice cute things and see the benefits. I knew I was in trouble when I caught myself laughing at a you tube video of dogs who had their beds stolen by cats. And when I heard myself telling Pete about the video when he came home and asked about my day, I knew for sure that I was a goner. So we packed up the kids, drove to Amish Country and got ourselves a pup. And by the way, if you have never bought anything from the Amish, you are missing out. My kids saw a little girl milking cows( and then doing something which I can only guess was straining the milk or skimming the cream or something) and they exclaimed, well it was more like laughed, "Hey mom, look how hard she's working." Like the amish girl was being punked. And I would make a joke about how ironic it is that the Amish don't believe in tweezers but they have no problem with credit card swipers but hey, I am a devout Mormon who loves Coke Zero and looks for any chance to add Grand Marnier into dessert but these lips have never tasted coffee, so who am I to judge?

p.s. I think vine is the greatest. I wish more of my friends were on it (hint hint.)